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Board refuses to hear appeal of Garnett decision

The Langley board of education has refused to hear R.C. Garnett parent Clint Lee’s appeal against changing his son’s elementary school from a K-7 to a K-5 configuration.

“It doesn’t come as a big surprise,” said Lee about the board’s decision. “In my opinion they are afraid to debate the merits of my arguments I have presented them, so they have refused me on technical grounds.”

The board wrote to Lee that he didn’t file his notice of appeal within the 30-day deadline from when the board announced R.C. Garnett would switch from K-7 to K-5. Any student or parent can appeal a decision of the board that “significantly affects the education, health or safety of the student.” Should the board accept to hear a parent’s appeal, the parent or parents can present a case to the trustees.

The board wrote to Lee that his reasons for filing an appeal late weren’t strong enough to ignore the 30-day rule.

“To me, it shows that once again the board isn’t putting the needs of the education of children in front of their technicalities,” said Lee.

He said the decision is devastating but he is still mulling over his next move. Under the School Act he can appeal the decision, he can take the board to Supreme Court or do nothing.

His son is in Grade Four now and will be moved to four schools within five years. His son will attend R.C. Garnett next year, Lynn Fripps the next, then change over to the new middle school for Grades 7 and 8 before switching to Mountain Secondary.

“There is the option of moving to another jurisdiction where schooling is more stable and there is the option of private school,” he said. He is saddened but what has happened to his son’s school.

“I was thanked by a lot of parents for filing this appeal. There is a feeling of helplessness among parents and most have lost the fight in them, which is unfortunate.”

His appeal argues that the board must consider other means to alleviate overcrowding at R.C. Garnett first, including the removal of non-catchment area and non-school district children from his son’s school.

In Lee’s appeal, he cites studies that show a student’s academic performance is severely hindered when being forced to switch schools so many times. He also cites statistics on school bus crashes and worries for his son’s safety as he is bused two catchments away to school.

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